A recent article questioned South Carolina’s law that requires all DUI investigations to be recorded on dash cam video, whether it was making prosecutions more difficult. After reviewing this article, and watching the video provided, I wondered if this type of law should be adopted in Florida. After some brief research it appears that South Carolina requires its police officers to record any investigation where an officer believes someone was drinking and driving.
Criticism against the law
As we’ve discussed several times in this blog, body cameras are being used against the police for their own improper actions. The article mentions that South Carolina has a lower conviction rate for DUI cases in comparison to the country as a whole. MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) believes that the law makes it too strict for prosecutors, which leads to dismissals and reduction of charges.
When watching the video connected with the article it gives it insight to why this law is so important. It helps support the officer’s testimony that the person is behaving the way that that officer reports. The law makes it difficult for an officer to introduce video of field sobriety exercises where it is incomplete. An example of this would be the walk and turn exercise. This exercise (notice I didn’t say test), should be done on a flat surface, and a well lit area, and a demarcation line should be used. If dash cam footage does not show the line for which the person is walking, how do we know they are doing it improperly. It only makes sense that if you are going to have a dash cam to support your evidence, it should be recording all the evidence.
Madd State Direct Steven Burritt told the Fox News reporter “There are things in our state laws, and loop holes, and the way we provide resources to prosecution, that leads to lots of challenges…including the fact that so many cases are getting pled down because of the number of technicalities folks have to deal with as they prosecute the case.”
First off when anybody uses the term “loopholes” it clearly means don’t know what they’re talking about. There is no loophole when it comes to using dash cams or body cameras. In fact, this is a safeguard for those individuals who may be wrongly accused of driving under the influence.
Maybe Mr. Burritt should not look at curbing driving under the influence as a when or a loss for a prosecutor. He should look at this as a way to protect the public in general.
Should Florida Adopt this Law
I believe South Carolina is being very progressive in mandating dash cams. This technology is becoming so readily available that private individuals actually have their own dash cams. I have personally seen it in two cases for which my clients were involved in an accident that a private citizen recorded it on their own dash cam.
If private citizens are doing the work of the police, that is far bigger problem than DUI convictions. A picture is always worth 1000 words, and video is worth more. So why shouldn’t we use this new technology, that is so readily available, to make sure justice prevails.